Rapper Ja Rule ruled the airwaves in the late '90s and early '00s. From anthems like "Holla Holla" to smooth R&B collaborations with Ashanti, Jennifer Lopez, and Christina Milian, R.U.L.E. and his songs were everywhere. But what happened to Ja Rule after his reign at the top of the charts? And where is Ja Rule now?
When Murder Inc. Records came tumbling down, Ja's career followed, as he engaged in - and lost - a well-publicized conflict with up-and-comer 50 Cent. He had a few acting roles and attempted to start his own label, but things hit a snag when he went to prison in 2011. But the Ja Rule stories don't end there. When he got out, he revived his career by penning an autobiography, touring his biggest hits, and engaging in some notable business ventures - though some were more successful than others.
When Murder Inc. Records, the record label Ja Rule signed with in 1999, became the focus of a federal investigation in the early 2000s, all of its music ventures were shelved. Ja's career suffered; Murder Inc.'s parent label, Def Jam, blocked the release of some of Ja's old music, thus preventing him from making money on it. Murder Inc., its founders Chris and Irv Gotti, and Ja also got slammed in the press.
And then there was his beef with 50 Cent. The Queens rappers had a long history of physical conflict, but things got ugly on the radio when 50's career began to take off. The two released scathing diss tracks, but when 50 Cent's debut disc, Get Rich or Die Tryin', blew up, that was all she wrote.
In 2010, Ja Rule reached a plea deal to serve two years in prison for criminal possession of a weapon, stemming from a 2007 arrest. Before his sentencing, he pleaded guilty in 2011 to tax evasion for his failure to pay taxes on more than $3 million in income; he was ordered to pay more than $1 million in back taxes and fines.
Ja was released from prison in May 2013.
While embroiled in legal troubles, Ja released a few relatively unsuccessful albums. He stepped away from Murder Inc. in 2009 to found his own independent label, Mpire Music Group. With Mpire, he released Pain Is Love 2, a sequel to his hugely successful 2001 album; the new release severely underperformed.
Ja Rule published a memoir called Unruly: The Highs and Lows of Becoming a Man in 2014. The book covered Ja's professional successes, details about his wife and children, and how stardom changed him.
In one revealing anecdote, Ja noted that he lost his virginity at 10 or 11. He wrote: "Having your first taste, you know, like a vampire having your first taste of blood, is something you don't want to stop. You want to continue."